90 Degrees South

The Barrier Silence

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The laid-back post-rock recipe laid down by Tortoise quickly solidified into a genre riddled with clichés. Soon, the only way to differentiate one act from the next was talent. 90° South's Kev Fox has what it takes. He plays most of the instruments on his debut CD, The Barrier Silence: drums, bass, guitar, Fender Rhodes, a few bits of synthesizers. His compositions, all rock instrumentals, are all listener-friendly, calm, dream-inducing. Repetition plays a lead role, as Fox imposes his stripped-down melodies. The arrangements, as unimaginative as they may be, are surprisingly well thought out. These pieces don't evolve through time --they stretch. Listening up close while staying focused is bound to bring disappointment. The Barrier Silence invites conversation and daydreaming. The album is held together by a polar theme: cover images and quotes of explorers, voice insertions sounding like radio transmissions, voices that recount excerpts from the history of land exploration at the poles. But the music is not cold at all. "U.H.F." and "First Atlantic Flight" are the two best moments, the former because of its two-finger synth line, the latter for its memorable melody. It is so simple, it could be put down as being too easy, but whenever you listen to the CD again, it brings a smile to your face the second it starts. The Barrier Silence is not rocket science; it simply stands as an excellent post-rock album within the rules of the genre.

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